Southwest Will Fly To Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

Southwest plans to fly to ORD and IAH Airport next year.

At the annual Boyd Group conference in Cincinnati today, Southwest Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Watterson announced the airline plans to fly to both Chicago O’Hare and Houston Intercontinental Airports some time in the first half of 2021.

This is a pretty groundbreaking move considering Southwest has never operated scheduled flights to Chicago O’Hare as it always preferred Chicago Midway.

Southwest also has a base in the smaller Houston Hobby Airport but previously flew to Houston Intercontinental up until 2005. Obviously Southwest isn’t completely shifting operations to ORD and IAH - these two cities will complement their MDW and HOU bases.

As of October 28, 2020, these are Southwest’s initial Chicago O’Hare routes:

Service begins February 14, 2021:

  • 4x daily ORD to Nashville
  • 4x daily ORD to Baltimore
  • 6x daily ORD to Denver (Directly against United)
  • 4x daily ORD to Dallas Love Field
  • 2x daily ORD to Phoenix

Southwest has been aggressively expanding into new markets lately with the recently additions of Miami, Palm Springs, Montrose, and Steamboat Springs.

Image Credits/Sources

Image Credits:

Southwest Airlines Newsroom
Southwest Airlines plans to add service out of O’Hare next year. ‘It’s been on our wish list for a long time.’ – Chicago Tribune

What are your thoughts on Southwest’s push towards these larger airports? Which routes do you think they’ll launch from ORD and IAH?

Routes and schedules will be announced in the coming weeks.


Wow that is so interesting that Southwest is expanding to main legacy-carrier hubs in cities where they already have low cost bases such as FLL and MIA, MDW and ORD, HOU and IAH.


October fools?


United Airlines right now:



Didn’t see this one… duplicate topic flag coming on my topic… apologies

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HOLY JEEZ! @Aviation3, @WheelerAviation, @ORD777flyer and @Chicago_Aviator sound the alarm!


Wow! That’s surprising. From ORD I could see BWI, BNA, DAL, STL, and maybe DEN. Possibly MCO/TPA/FLL too. DEN might be a bit tricky with already LCC presence on that route, and it’s a hub to hub route with United.

For IAH I could definitely see DAL, BNA, DEN, possibly STL and some California/Florida destinations.


Lol, I know I can’t wait to see them flying here!


Personally, I don’t know if I agree with this decision. Living in the Chicagoland Area and regularly using both O’Hare and Midway, I don’t see how this is going to help anything. First off, Southwest practically “owns” Midway. Although I’m well aware nobody actually “owns” the airport, Southwest is the biggest carrier in the airport by FAR, occupying roughly 4/5 of the total number of gates at the airport. When spotting, I’d say that nearly 29 of every 30 commercial operations done at the airport are Southwest, with the occasional Delta, Porter, or Volaris flight. If Southwest were to completely leave the airport, Midway would likely need to shut down.

Also, I feel like this would severely hurt the typical Southwest “low cost” strategy. Although Southwest clearly isn’t as low cost as airlines such as Frontier, Spirit, or even Ryanair in Europe, Southwest still calls themselves low cost. Moving some or all operations to O’Hare would be really expensive, and that expense would likely be passed along to the consumer in higher ticket prices.

O’Hare is currently doing a MASSIVE expansion, and to be honest I’m interested to see where Southwest will be placed. New O’Hare design is based around the idea of grouping airline alliances together in the same or close terminals, in order to make seamless connections a possibility. No longer will all International flights arrive at the International Terminal 5. Now many of the terminals will have customs. Being Southwest isn’t part of any alliance, unlike many airlines present at O’Hare, it’s interesting to see where they are placed.

I am still curious, as to why. Why the relocation? And why announce this during Covid? And will it only be some flights moved? Or all?


They said that Midway will be unaffected all flights from midway will remain the same.


Probably this is about moving business traffic to O’Hare and IAH (probably even with a codeshare agreement). If this is to enable connections (which a codeshare agreement would be about), then it would be interesting to think about a possible partner, as both IAH and O’Hare are United and Star Alliance hubs in the first place making Star Alliance airlines not an option for a Southwest partnership. The same goes for a partnership with American in O’Hare as well in my opinion, as they are pretty strong there and can’t need any competition.


I just have one thing to say: huhhhhhh

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Not even my dad saw this one coming.

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They’re starting service on HOU-MSP too.

Source: @Aceorbit


Wow! Quite the news this morning. I find it interesting that Southwest is expanding into the IAH and ORD markets, both large airports that are super-hubs for American air-travel. Being an ORD frequent flyer, I can see why they would do this. ORD has a massive presence in the airport world, adding Southwest means more connections to cities that are probable to have service already to by United, American, Spirit, and maybe even Frontier. The fact that Southwest is going into a market that is dominated by 2 Large American carriers, a focus city and/or Crew Center for 2 low-cost carries too; Spirit and Frontier, seems a little foolish to me.

Southwest is playing a dangerous game in my opinion. I think this is all in an effort to become more like Westjet and eventually expand into international services on long-haul routes. I am unsure what to think of this change, having Southwest come to KORD during a time of rebuilding and expansion for the airport seems interesting, I can only hope the best for the Dallas based company.


Interesting. With this announcement, plus with the other cities they announced recently, that means they will fly to every major airport in these areas that may have only been served with one (or two) other airports in the said area.
Miami (MIA, FLL, PBI)
Houston (HOU and IAH)
Chicago (MDW and ORD)

It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what routes they announce. I could definitely both see DEN-IAH and DEN-ORD happening, as United and Frontier have multiple flights a day between these cities, even with widebodies as they are hubs for United, but I guess time will have to tell on this one.


The airlines are taking advantage of the cheap airport prices now.

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Now it’s time for me to ask the same bloody question I ask every time a topic like this comes up, what Terminal do you think they’ll use? Personally, I think they have two options, the first is they do what Frontier did and use M1-M3 at T5. The second option is use T3, although T3 is dominated by American there is a concourse for airlines like Alaska, Spirit, and JetBlue.


This physically hurts me


Isn’t ORD a bit gate constrained right now? Not sure if there’s any available gates in T3 where Alaska/Spirit/JetBlue are